Without a clear understanding of direction, software development can begin to feel a bit monotonous to development teams. Each release entails a new group of features being created and added to the existing set. New plans just keep coming and, like clockwork, the team just keeps cranking them out. The steady rhythm of regular delivery can hypnotize team members and lead them on a steady march into the perilous Den of Reason Lost.
It’s a dangerous place, this den. For in it, team members fail to grasp the end goals which are driving that very list of features lined up in front of them. This, in turn, leads to missed opportunities that could have been unearthed by the team members’ unique insights. Features do continue to materialize from within the den, but they come with just a little less flair and a little less substance than the cycle before. With each new cycle, it degrades further. Over time, a downward spiral builds and the Den of Reason Lost claims not just team members as its guests, but invites the entire product itself.
But There’s Hope
What keeps us out of the den? Why knowledge of our objectives, of course.
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Fans of “The Princess Bride” know that Inigo, though a distracted by the bottle at times, had a purpose in life. His singular goal was to find the six-fingered man and avenge his father’s death. Now, there is a man with an objective.
Fortunately, development organizations need not rely on vengeance for their objectives. Identifying the impacts of the product makes on end users’ lives can be sufficient. Focus on these keep the mental streams of insight flowing.
PI Objectives To the Rescue
That’s right where the concept of the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) Program Increment (PI) Objectives comes in. Development teams identify the objectives behind the list of features they have planned, review the objectives with the business owners, and even put them on a numeric scale to understand the relative importance of each objective.
After completing the development, they evaluate just how much of each objective’s business value was actually delivered, giving each team an achievement score across their objectives. The summarized results of the achievement scores across teams and program increments are mapped out on the Program Predictability Report.
We at VersionOne liked this concept so much, we decided that protecting teams from the Den of Reason Lost was a worthy objective for our software. Take a look at our results and let us know what you think. No vengeance necessary.
Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.